Gender Pay Gap – Analysing the latest government guidance

The government has released new guidance for employers on how to understand and address their gender pay gap (GPG) ahead of the second annual GPG reporting deadline. This guidance outlines several potential causes of gender based pay inequality and encourages employers to consider where this may apply to their organisation.

A key trend from last year’s round of GPG reporting was a lack of women working in senior roles. With this in mind, employers are encouraged to assess where the progression of female staff may become stuck at a certain level, by analysing the gender balance of any existing seniority structure as well as how each gender is represented in certain job types and departments.

Employers are advised to examine their approach to promoting female staff by assessing the proportion of women who apply for promotions, are shortlisted and ultimately selected for promotion. If this proportion is lower than expected, especially given the proportion of potential applicants, then employers are encouraged to remove any barriers, such as offering flexible arrangements and ensuring unconscious bias doesn’t influence decision making.

Staff departures also have the potential to influence an employer’s GPG, particularly if female employees in higher paid positions are choosing to leave an organisation more quickly than their male counterparts. To determine this, guidance suggests that employers analyse the percentage of women and men who chose to leave their company over the past year, by seniority level. If a gender imbalance is discovered here, then employers should consider how detailed exit interviews and staff satisfaction surveys can help identify any issues that may be specifically affecting female staff.
Disproportionate starting salaries may also be contributing factors towards an unbalanced GPG, therefore employers may want to compare the starting salaries for male and female employees in comparable roles. Whilst many employers base their wage offerings on an applicant’s previous salaries, this is practice believed to perpetuate the GPG in many instances and employers should refrain from asking for this information during the hiring process.

The guidance states that more women than men work part-time, meaning that employers who provide support to part-time staff will be, by association, providing more support to working women. Examining the number of part-time roles available and increasing offerings where possible, particularly in senior positions, could be a way to resolve this.

An employer’s approach to staff with childcare responsibilities can also have an influence on their GPG and it is advisable to review any existing policies to ensure they are fair for both men and women. Flexible working may be favoured by female staff with young families, therefore taking a positive approach to requests will aid in retaining top talent and reduce the need for female staff to seek alternative employment elsewhere.

With the above in mind, employers are reminded that the deadline for producing their latest gender pay gap report is fast approaching. Qualifying public organisations have until 30th March 2019 to publish their report, whilst private sector firms will have until 4th April 2019 to do the same.

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